Sunday, June 29, 2008
And can I say how great it was to be able to watch this match on ABC since I don't get cable?
Once home in Zaragoza, they will be able to visit the Expo 2008.
So what is going on in Spain these days? Well today the entire continent of Europe will be watching the final match of the soccer tournament, the EuroCup, only played every four years. The Spanish national team has a field of brilliant young players: David Villa, Cesc Fabregas, and goalkeeper Iker Casillas ("San Casillas") who may prove the key to defeating the Germans. Two very different styles of play and real suspense. Each team will be missing it's star player due to injuries. ABC is broadcasting the game today at 1:30, so I will be sure to watch.
For those of you (and I know there are a few readers out there, even though I don't hear from you enough in the comments!) here is a great fifteen-minute video tour of Zaragoza, narrated by Simon Calder, travel writer for The Independent. The first part includes a guided tour of some of the most important historical and architectural sites. He also eats migas, has churros con chocolate, multiple tapas, and has coffee in one of my favorte cafes!
This video combines images of Zaragoza's past/present/future architecture with songs by local group Amaral:
For folks who want to know something more about living in Spain, I recommend this fascinating blog, Notes From Spain, in which a Brit, Ben Curtis, married to a woman from Madrid, Marina Diez, writes about living and working in Spain. Their podcast conversations blend an expat's perspective with a native view, so they are lots of fun.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Leo loves his pop-up cube: it has become his den, and he loves it when we dangle toys around it.
Our cat usually stays indoors, for a variety of reasons, our ridiculous climate being one, and his lack of street smarts being another. Years ago when I lived in Berkeley, where cats can live outdoors all year long, I spent too many Friday evenings taking a feisty male cat to the pet emergency clinic to want to have to deal with those head wounds they get when they try to defend their territory. But from time to time I am reminded that Leo is a mighty hunter.
When I take him out on the front lawn to hang out with him he chews grass and looks shifty-eyed at the squirrels. As soon as we get out there, the birds start yelling at him and sometimes a squirrel will scold. I got a reminder that all that play with his toys inside is really just a substitute for the real thing when we were getting ready to leave on our trip last week; we had his little Port-a-pet ready but he was out on the lawn. As I was walking toward him to put him in the carrier, I saw a sparrow dive-bomb him, and realized that he had a bird in his mouth. I could see it was still alive but holding still, and I reached to grab the back of his neck. He growled at me, but I pulled his head back and he let go of the bird. In an instant he had it pinned under his front paws. I pulled him back again and the bird was able to fly away, somewhat slowly, but surely. I hope it didn't have any puncture wounds and could recover, but I will never forget the sight of that mouthful of bird. He is so fast.He stayed for a week at the farm, but did not attack the guinea pigs or the pigeon! He loves the barn, and if it had any rodents, it doesn't now.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Pillars of the Thomas Jefferson memorial in Washington DC. My brother is named after him, as were our father and grandfather. Inside is inscribed: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
As this story shows, all the public pomp and patriotic display are good for the tourists, but don't try to actually assert your right to assemble or pursue happiness by dancing at midnight with 20 friends to the music of your ipods, even though the memorial is open 24 hours a day, because because we live in a police state now and the police can order you to disperse and then arrest you for asking, "why?"
Saturday, June 21, 2008
A horsehoe crab that got washed up on the beach, belly up. These creatures predate the dinosaurs and have been around for 300,000 years! take that, creationists! Unfortunately, industrial fishing is making a serious dent in their population, which in turn affects the migratig birds that feed on them. A substance in their blood is useed to test for various deadly diseases. Who knew?
Sunset on the beach at Cape Henlopen.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Joshua and Katee, for both their routines: last week's hip hop and this weeks Broadway. They are well matched for energy and synchornicity, and they have a GREAT connection, even when they are not directly partnering. The first dance told an emotional story of impending separation and pain, while this weeks was a joyous romp. I thought they did a great job with both routines, both in the execution of the choreography and the creation of an emotional arc as a duo. For this reason, they are my favorite couple so far.
I can't decide who my next favorite dancers are because I like quite a few of them. Mark Kanemura has done a great job so far, partly because he's had two outstanding routines to work with: Mia Michaels is always great as far as I'm concerned, and I thought Mark expressed the character of the Argentine tango perfectly for someone who has never danced it before. Some people are getting down on his partner Chelsie Hightower for her part in the tango, but I thought she has been excellent in both dances so far. But neither dance has really showcased her. Mia had her in a foofy tutu that obscured her body for parts of the dance, and the AT has the woman in close embrace and you don't see her face, but her footwork and carriage were strong. She ventured into ballrooom tango a little bit in her posture at times, but I don't think that's bad for a showcase routine like this, with lifts etc. It's not a milonga. People who were talking about how they looked down don't realize that this is part of the dance, not a mistake. They had GREAT chemistry, and I think they have been pleasing the fans.
I love Will and Twitch. Jessica is better than the judges have been saying. Is the fact that the she and Will are not dancing at the same level her fault or partly that Will is not dancing with her the way Joshua is with Katee? Let's not forget that this is a partnership and if they are not matching, he may have something to do with it. Hard to say yet. He IS a superior dancer, for sure, but I like the quality of Joshua's movement the best of all the men.
I do like Matt Dorame, and thought the foxtrot was fine, but I understand a little what Nigel is saying even if I think he is being cruel about it. Matt has such brilliant technique with his legs, but sometimes his arms are not strong enough. Not in an effiminate way, but in that he doesn't continue the energy beyond his hands, project it out.This also comes through in his facial expressions. He has a fabulous and mobile face, but for some reason he's not communicating with it. I'm not sure why. His partner is OK, but I can't remember her name, and that is not good.Kortni? She's a good dancer, but they lack the connection they need to make it flow.
Susie was flustered by Alex da Silva, what a jerk he is, when he said she was a street salsa dancer, but why should she be hurt by that? She is, and that's just fine! But she did not bring it in her number, for whatever reason--she was unsure and not rhythmic. I actually thought Marquis did fine for being a salsa beginner. Not as good as their waltz, but I have wanted to flog Alex in the past for being incredibly unkind to the dancers he works with, so this is not new.
Other couples were fine but not as well served by their choreography. Of course, I was on the plane during the show and have had to piece it together with BloggingSYTYCD (thanks Ted and Sue B!) and all the other fanatics.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Language Log's Mark Liberman parses both the rhetoric and the statistics of journalists' reporting on a scientific study of brains and the supposed correlation with sexuality.
Via Kottke, a set of photos of the flooding in Iowa at the Big Picture blog.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I haven't had time yet to find and read books set in Annapolis or the Eastern Shore, but I am intrigued by Song Yet Sung by James McBride (author of a memoir I loved, The Color of Water). Harriet Tubman was born on the Eastern Shore, and much of her activity in the Underground Railroad took place in that area. Frederick Douglass was also born on the Eastern Shore, and this 7th grader's history project connects his writings with the place he was born.
We will go camping for a night at Cape Henlopen in Delaware,
Sunday, June 15, 2008
We took a walk around the farm, despite the mosquitos.
Every time someone talks about an animal named Fluffy, I hear this.
Friday, June 13, 2008
First it stopped working. I took it to the Apple store, and the tech replaced the logic board and the top panel on the keyboard case because it was cracked (what Apple calls a "known issue"). My Apple Care 3-year warranty covered this.
Small problem: when I get home the computer still won't boot up. Dead. So I take it back. The tech says he has to send it to Apple because he can't get it to boot up either and doesn't have the parts to repair it, this is the usual procedure, bla bla bla. He can't tell me what exactly is wrong with it, but hints that this is the protocol.
Apple then tells him that they won't repair it under the warranty because there has been "spillage" for which the have "photographic documentation" and the LCD (display) is damaged. They want me to pay almost $1000 to fix it. I say that I did not spill anything, but it is not inconceivable that another person did (although my daughter would have told me and I would have noticed it, I'm sure), but would they please tell me what exactly they were going to repair as I brought it in because it wouldn't boot up and they had already replaced the logic board. The tech gives me the serial number and make, and urges me to embark on my next Quest.
First, I am to call the 1-800 number, but I must be sure to ignore the menu that will confuse me and not lead me to my destination. I must ask to be connected with Customer Relations, and not accept any other destinatin. Make sure that when I am connected that I am indeed talking to Customer Relations and not something else with a similar name. I do so, and although the rep tried hard to head me off, eventually I am given a magic case number and transferred.
Customer Relations listens to my story and promises to find out what's up and call back. However, a few hours later, I'm talking to CR again, but the story remains the same: I must have spilled something, thus voiding the warranty, and they have pictures. I repeat my questions: what is it that they have to fix to get the computer to boot up? and why are they claiming that the palm rest shows damage when that part was replaced?
We go around like this for a while and it finally emerges that the repair folks have not even opened up the computer to see what is inside it! they have opened the lid and looked at the exterior, but have not "looked under the hood" so to speak. I am livid, but trying hard to remain civil and calm, and to ensure that the person on the other end of the line and I are using the same terminology. I keep repeating that if this were a car that I took into the shop, nobody would expect me to pay the equivalent of the price of a new car before they even opened the hood or looked underneath. I am polite but persistent and logical. I make it clear that I will not allow him to rephrase my words into a different story.
Finally, the guy just says, we'll fix it for you at no charge, and I ask him to send it to me at my work address. I am hoping that it arrives soon and that when it does, that it actually works.
I go home feeling exhausted and confused. I have achieved my goal, but I feel just horrible.
The tech guy at the store calls me this morning to tell me that it looks as if Apple has "released" the machine and it will indeed be repaired.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Yesterday, we attended an open house for a high-school graduate, my daughter's second cousin. It was a lovely party, with pictures, a video, balloons, and lots of great food. Some of us older folks mused about the fact that we had not had such celebrations when we graduated from high school. Is it a new thing? a regional custom? a class-based ritual?
But then I remembered what we did to celebrate my graduation from Lowell High School in 1974: we went to Disneyland! I think I remember that it was about $19 to fly round-trip from SF to LA. I don't remember the price of the ticket, but it probably wasn't much. We had to dress according to the Disney code: girls had to wear dresses or skirts, or matching pantsuits, and boys had to wear a sports coat. No jeans! We, and hundreds of other high school kids, were turned loose overnight in Disneyland for Grad Night where we got to ride all the rides, see musical acts and buy souvenirs. None of us smuggled in booze, that I know of anyway. The hit show of the night was The Four Tops, in all their dancing glory, singing hits like "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch," Reach Out: I'll be There, Still Waters, "Baby, I need your loving","Ain't No Woman Like the One I got". My friends and I were all about R and B, funk and soul in those days, with a lot of love for local favorites War, Tower of Power, Sly and the Family Stone and Santana as well.
One of my favorite memories of that night is of sitting in a restaurant, and suddenly seeing Olivia Newton-John and her band rise up from the floor on a round stage, singing "Let me be there." Something like this:
Monday, June 09, 2008
I can read my email on my blackberry, and even look at the web (slowly and painfully), but without flash, I can't watch videos.
Horrors! How am I going to keep up with the news at BSYTYCD?
How am I going to watch episodes of America's Best Dance Crew, season 2 since I don't get cable?
And how can I rewatch these awesome dance videos of the YouTube dance battle?? with Adam Sevani and the ACDC Cru? and the hot Chris Brown + Adam free-style?
I do my work stuff at work, but at home I like to kick back. And we are having anime withdrawal.
Friday, June 06, 2008
"There's another reason to be grateful to her. Clinton's run has put to rest the myth that we are living in a postfeminist wonderland in which all that stands in women's path is women themselves. Like a magnet--was it the pantsuit?--Clinton drew out the nation's misogyny in all its jeering glory and put it where we could all get a good look at it. "Iron my shirt" hecklers. Wearers of Bros Over Hos T-shirts and buyers of Hillary nutcrackers. Fans of the Citizens United Not Timid website (check the acronym). Vats of sexist nastiness splattered across the Comments section of hundreds of blogs and websites. It's as if every obscene phone caller and every exhibitionist in America decided to become an amateur political pundit.
As for the real pundits, thank you, Hillary, for showing us the snickering belittling of women that passes for media commentary: Rush Limbaugh, no Adonis, wondering out loud if "the country" was ready to watch a woman age in the White House; Chris Matthews, Don Imus and Tucker Carlson with their litany of insults--she-devil, Satan, witch, Antichrist, Lady Macbeth. NPR's Ken Rudin compared her to Glenn Close's indestructible bunny-boiler character in Fatal Attraction. And surely a special prize goes to Keith Olbermann for his indignant, hysterical bombast after Clinton's ham-handed reference to RFK's assassination. Rarely has men's terror of women with more brains than a Bratz doll been on such public display. And, of course, men were what we mostly saw up there on the small screen, yakking and blathering away.
It wasn't just men, though. Thank you, Hillary, for letting us get a good look at female sexism: the catty fashionistas and Style page dingbats obsessing over her clothes, her hair, her weight, her cleavage, her laugh. Air America's Randi Rhodes calling her a "big fucking whore," Maureen Dowd offering up her twice-weekly dose of vinegar and dozens of women writers musing prettily about why they and their friends all hate Hillary. Could it be they're jealous? Not, as novelist Mary Gordon has suggested, of Hillary's bagging of sexy Bill (yuck) but of her unsinkable ambition and drive. Hillary's run upset the carefully balanced apple cart of trade-off and resignation and semi-suppressed frustration that is how women of the professional class accommodate to patriarchy lite."
We are going to have to put up with a lot more yammering about what everyone "should" do in the next week, but I'm looking forward to bringing it to John McCain and the failed, discredited, divided Republican party. We cannot afford to let McCain win. I'm sure that Hillary Clinton will bring her formidable skills to that task, and that she will play an important role in shaping the political agenda of the next four years.
And while we're at it, let's throw out that slimeball Norm Coleman and elect Jack Nelson-Pallmayer, a candidate whose stands on the issues I really can endorse, and who will be a worthy successor of Paul Wellstone in the Senate.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I spent the day in an event called "Democracy Day" as a prelude to the National Media Reform Conference that starts tomorrow. It was a gathering of folks working on election reform, and I learned a lot. More about that later when I have time and energy: all the thunderstorms moving through really have an effect on my fibromyalgia symptoms. Instead of going to the big party tonight, I gave my tickets away and went home, and I'm glad I did. Sudden drops in barometric pressure have been anecdotally reported by people with fibro, and some studies confirm that this is the case.
Besides, SYTYCD was going to reveal the top 20!
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
What is the cost of gas in European countries right now?
How many people does the Xcel center hold and how many turned out for the Obama speech?
What else has Eliot Pattison written besides the four novels I've read about Tibet?
How many people will lose their jobs because of GM's stupid short-sighted gas guzzling priorities?
Have the kids been having any dry weather in the Badlands?
What a relief that I bought the 3-year Applecare warranty! I have been informed that they are replacing the "logic board" (that's the motherboard in Macspeak), so it would have cost me a pile if I'd had to pay for it myself. I'll find out what else might have gone wrong when they call me to let me know when it is ready, either today or tomorrow. I've been reading around about known Macbook issues with overheating, replacing the logic board because of a "whine" and having to tinker with the Time Machine settings once the logic board is replaced :(
As a result, I've been relatively unplugged for the last few days, and let me tell you, it has been interesting to see how psychologically dependent I have become on having instant access, especially when I want to follow a news story. My phone allows me to read my email and even browse, although it is slow, but yesterday I followed the Obama/Clinton/McCain news solely on mainstream media. Yuck, was that painful. And no, I did not go to Saint Paul to stand in line for hours to get into the Xcel center to then wait for more hours to watch a speech because I knew that Chuck Olson and the good folks at The Uptake would be there.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Puerto Ricans ARE U.S. citizens, and the elections affect Puerto Rico, which is part of the U.S., but because it is not a state (as is also the case for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) they cannot vote for president, and there are no electors to the Electoral College from Puerto Rico.
The District of Columbia does have one elector, because of the 23rd Amendment to the Constitution, but it still does not have Congressional representation, despite having a larger population than some states. Until there is a constitutional amendment, or Puerto Rico is granted statehood, Puerto Ricans will not be able to vote for anyone in Novemberunless they become residents of a state, like New York.
We packed everything, checked the list twice and repacked it, but I still managed to forget to give her the totally cool new water bottle we bought for the trip because we left it in the fridge. Considering that we had to be at her school at 5:45 AM, I'm glad that's the only thing that got left behind.
While I am on my own here, I will tackle the endless sorting and purging of STUFF. I bought six plastic storage containers to pack up things that are taking up space but that we don't want to throw out, like photo albums and old school papers we're saving. I'm going to take all the CDs we have copied to Cheapo to sell. The office space that I never really use is going to become her homework/art space, and that corner of the living room that was supposed to be her homework/artspace (currently a pile of STUFF) is going to become nothing in particular, just a place free of junk.
There should be enough room to do yoga without bumping into the furniture.